Creating packaging that informs and appeals to consumers can be a challenge, especially when competition is steep, such as in markets selling cannabidiol (CBD) or other cannabinoid products. Here, cannabinoid product producers share strategies for creating packaging that sells.


Tip from …

Martha Opela, marketing director, Charlotte’s Web

1. Communicate transparently.

“The CBD category still generates a lot of confusion for new entrants. Common questions we receive are: ‘Why should I take CBD? How do I really know what’s in the product and if it’s quality?’ It’s important for packaging to provide this clarity, as it is the core piece of marketing they interact with regularly. In designing the packaging for our Sleep Gummy, a No. 1-selling item for Charlotte’s Web, we made sure to check the following boxes: 

  • ‘Need state’ (AKA consumer motivation to buy) clarity: This was prioritized in the product name and via color cues to make sure people know the benefits the product can provide.
  • Ingredient clarity: We list out the botanicals we use in harmony with CBD ...
  • CBD strength clarity: We include a simple milligrams per serving callout on the front of the pack.
  • Additional product benefits: We use symbols to denote additional benefits, such as gluten-free.
  • QR Code: This allows the consumer to quickly be routed to our site with the full suite of information they might be looking for, including the COA [certificate of analysis], the company mission and how to get started.

 This, combined with our distinct branding, allows consumers to make informed [buying] decisions.”

From left: Charlotte’s Web Sleep Gummy; CBD American Shaman Rise & Rest Sampler; Essence Smokes
Photos courtesy of Charlotte’s Web, CBD American Shaman and Essence Smokes
Tip from …

Vince Sanders, founder and president, CBD American Shaman

2. Incorporate interactive features.

“... We value our in-store experience for consumer education .... With our Rise & Rest Sampler Packaging, we wanted to bring that experience to potential customers shopping online.

When the customer opens the box, they enter a guided experience through CBD American Shaman. Upon opening the first flap, our CBGo energy/morning product is introduced with education, a sun symbol and a QR code to allow the consumer to get more information. Customers then see our water-soluble CBD to use throughout the day, and then our CBNight product .... A product insert gives more information, access to store locations and a QR code to shop.

We use tracking technologies to see which part of the packaging is the most utilized so we can continue improving on the design. Also, we include a branded ‘Shaman Buck’ gift certificate for ... more incentive to go into a store or shop online.”


Tip from …

Greg Capolino, co-founder, Essence Smokes

3. Use bold, eye-catching visual elements.

“We are mostly an impulse buy in brick-and-mortar stores targeting tobacco smokers looking for an alternative. To be in a convenience store or smoke shop, we need to stand out.

When we began brainstorming, ... my partner felt a Pantone blue would pop in smoke shops and convenience stores, as it is both bold and alluring.

The most important thing for me was that the cannabigerol (CBG) needed to be ... the centerpiece. We are the world’s first CBG cigarette. We wanted this abundantly clear.

We came up with about 10 logos, and the one we agreed upon had the words ‘Essence Smokes’ draped over the CBG [and] looked sort of like a crown. It looked regal and classy.

We like how everything tied together: The blue pops, the logo showcases CBG and conveys quality, and the way it sits on the box is tidy, eye-catching and clean.”

Editor’s note: Answers have been lightly edited for length and clarity.